Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am on vacation this week from work. I am not traveling anywhere but I just needed a break from the office. My internet at home was down and the AT&T tech just left and got me back online. Thank goodness. I forgot how attached I am to the computer and the internet.

I am going to try to stay off my computer as much as possible this week to really get a break. I will be posting my May Recap soon and I am bracing for the storm. =)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chitown is Alive…

Hi everyone! I am still alive and kicking. The month of May has taken a toll on me emotionally and financially. I am looking forward to taking next week off for vacation.

I stopped by my parent’s home last night and my grandmother was having a terrible day. For those that do not know, my grandmother has a severe case of Alzheimers. She’s lived with my parents for 20 years and has declined rapidly since November of last year. I need to help my mother look into assisted living for her next week. The cost for alzheimers care is expensive and of course, she did not have long-term care insurance.

I am wrapping up the month of May and I am dreading my monthly recap. I think my net worth will be down about $2,000 with market losses as well.

All of my student loans are now in repayment. I faxed in the request to put the new federal loans on an interest only payment plan for the next 2 years. They have yet to process the request so the new payment amount is not reflected on the system. As soon as I know the amount, I will be able to budget for June and the remainder of the year.

I have an informal interview on June 1st for a position with Macys on State Street. The position of for cosmetic sales, beauty advisor, on call. I am not sure what it will entail but I am going to see what they are talking about. I don’t think my current employment allows for the flexibility of an “on call” position but rather a set schedule for a part-time position. I am still going to participate in the interview and get all of the information and details. I worked retail for years in college for Structure (Express for Men) so I have some retail experience. I manage my own portfolio of Bank customers all day long so I have customer service experience. We’ll see.

My Boss is on leave dealing with a Bank acquisition so I have an interim Team Lead who was coincidentally my first Team Lead when I joined the group. I told him that I had a discussion with my old Boss about a year ago about my salary being below market and the income disparity with my coworkers. I also told him there was talk about me taking on additional responsibilities to justify an increase. I put out there that I was trying to get to $85,000 from $75,000 and I wanted to know what I need to do to make that happen. He agreed that they should have circled back to me by now with some decision and said he would follow up and talk to my Boss and the Head of our Group. Otherwise, I told him I may need some flexibility with my schedule so I can leave a little earlier to get part-time employment. He looked shocked but people with Money never seem to understand people without it, especially when the person without money has all the tools, education and drive.

I am very educated, driven, experienced and well…broke. We’ll see what happens.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I had a fantastic weekend. We drove through the night on Thursday evening to Tennessee and arrived around 9am for the 2pm graduation. The graduation was short and sweet and I probably spend about $30 while I was down there.

We drove through the night on Saturday and got home around 5:30am Sunday morning for the 2pm wedding. The wedding was beautiful. I gave the bride and groom $150 which covered our plates at the reception and gave a modest gift ~ $25. I went back and forth with the amount of the gift and this amount is what I was comfortable giving.

There is no doubt that this month hit the Efund hard...down to about $500. I am going to collect myself, dust myself off and have a terrific rest of the year.

Macy’s contacted me about setting up an interview so I need to go online and see what that process is all about. No bites yet on the Roomate site.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chitown Reality Check…

As my reader Kris said yesterday…I am broke. I am $250K in debt. That is one-quarter of a million dollars!!! Like my reader Aaren said…GET IT TOGETHER!!!

Okay…I am going to get it together. I returned the dresses to Macys this afternoon. I am getting the A/C repaired in my car today. That will cost ~ $475. By the end of the month, I will have depleted my Efund by ~ 50% or $1,000.

Here is what I am thinking about doing...

I am thinking about getting a part-time job on the weekend. I applied to DSW and Macys online and I will continue to look for additional opportunities. I would love to work for Crate & Barrel or somewhere at the retail outlet.

I am now actively looking for a roommate. I signed up with an online site that tries to match those seeking a place to live with those looking for a roommate. I put out a request for $700/month and a $700 deposit but I would be happy to get $600. The money would go towards repayment of debt.

I was thinking about liquidating my ESPP and ShareBuilder account and applying the proceeds towards my Perkins Loan. The stock carries a value of ~ $1,500 and the balance on my Perkins loan is ~ $2,500 so that would leave just about $1,000 on the loan. Instead, I think I will continue to hold the investments in case I need to liquidate them and reestablish my Efund. That way, I don’t touch the $10,000 short-term savings.

I am working on it folks.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Damage Breakdown...

Okay, I tallied all of the damage last night. Here is my progress report for the month. I also provided a more detailed breakdown in an effort to provide fuller transparency.

So far, my Efund is down $600 and I don't have any funds in my checking account so any additional spending comes from the Efund the rest of the month.

Returns will boost my checking account. Everything has been paid for with cash.

Clothing & Shopping - $291:

Clothing and shopping is going down at least $120. I need clothing and undergarments (badly). I can't get everything all at once so I did buy ONE undergarment set on Saturday for $85.

I also bought two dresses from Macys with the idea that I was going to come home, try them on and decide which one to keep. Once I return the one dress, clothing and shopping will drop ~ $130.

Here is what I think I am going to do about the dress situation. I have a black dress (albeit a size 10) from about 5 years ago that I think I can squeeze into. I am going to go home tonight and try it on. If I can fit it, then I will also return the other dress. It cost $165 (with 10.25% Chicago sales tax) but I had a $100 gift card to Macy's that my parents gave me for Christmas so I only paid $65 for the coral dress. I do hate wearing Black to a wedding. I look more like I am going to a funeral.

So there you have it, Clothing and Shopping could drop by $195.

Personal Care - $225:

I got my hair chopped off...close to 2 inches. Due to stress and too much heat, my hair was badly damaged so I went to the hairdressor and she had to cut it. In an effort to never have that happen again, I purchased additional curly hair products so that I can wear my hair natural more often. I spoke with my sylist and she knows I will only be coming in on occassion just to get my ends clipped. I may go in every 8 weeks but she won't wash and condition it, just trim the ends so the cost should be around $20 every 8 weeks compared to $50/month.

I needed proactiv and I got a pedicure. Yes I did...I got a pedicure for $33 with tip. I am going to have my toes out this weekend in Tennesee for the graduation and the wedding. I won't go again for the rest of the month.

So, I made steps to reduce my hair appointments and monthly personal care budget by $50/month.

Miscellaneous - $1,312:

Here is the breakdown for miscellaneous:

  1. Car repair - $615 (paid for by my parents)
  2. Mother's Day - $209 (includes gifts and food)
  3. Graduation Gifts - $100
  4. Birthday Gifts - $193
  5. Prescriptions - $178

My prescription was not covered by insurance but the cream should last at least 6 months. This was for the bad burn that I got last year.

Birthday gifts includes $25 for my little cousin's birthday and $168 for concert tickets to see Erykah Badu. I got the tickets for my boyfriend's birthday next month and it is also my June entertainment. His birthday is June 6th and I didn't plan to buy anything until next month but the notification for the ticket sale came out and he is a huge fan. So, I thought it would be a perfect birthday gift and entertainment for June. I just had to pay for it in May because the tickets would have sold out by June.

The Rest of May:

  1. Wedding Gift - $150-$200
  2. Car A/C Repair - $475 (getting it done tomorrow - dealership cost $700)

Here is the detailed breakdown:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking Time Off…

Chitown put in for a week of vacation. I need one bad but I couldn’t figure out the best time to go since I needed to be in the office for this training, that meeting, this project or that judicial sale, etc. I had Mandatory Customer Service Training to attend on May 25th and that seemed like the only week I could take off until the middle of June. I cannot wait until June….I might lose my mind.

So I went to my Team Lead and told him I needed some time off and asked him what would happen to me if I missed the training. Thank God for good management. He waived me off and said…Take it!!! So, I am going to take the week of May 24th off and come back after Memorial day on June 1st. I will get back just in time for one of my properties to go for judicial sale on June 2nd. Oh boy...

10 days off work!!! =)

Damage Control…

Chitown in doing damage control. I took a huge financial hit this month. I am so overwhelmed with my life that I am just taking care of stuff and dealing with it later. I know...bad planning and bad move.

Besides being under the weather and having little to no energy myself, my mother is half losing her mind with having to take care of my grandmother and father. This weekend, she completely lost it about Mother’s Day because she couldn’t make a decision. To top things off, my Uncle flew in to stay with my parents so he could visit with my grandmother on Mother’s Day. So, there was yet another person for my mom to take care of. Needless to say, it got to a point where my sister and I needed take the entire thing out of her hands because she couldn’t make another decision or do anything more.

We were combining Mother’s Day with my little cousin’s birthday celebration since he turns 10 today and everyone would be together. So, the whole day cost me between $300-$400 to plan a Mother’s Day/ Birthday dinner for 12 people and get gifts. I still have to tally the entire damage. My Mom usually takes care of everything and we just show up. So the money she and my dad gave me to fix my car pretty much went to pay for Sunday.

It’s been a mess. I took my car into the shop on Saturday for a second opinion on the air conditioner and I will need to replace the A/C lines. The inspection cost me $50. The shop is going to call me this morning with repair cost since the Nissan part shop was closed on Saturday.

I am traveling to Tennessee on Thursday for a graduation and I have a wedding to attend here in Chicago on Sunday. I tried going to look for a single dress to wear to both events because I have nothing to wear. NOTHING!!! I found a dress in Macys but it cost me about $80. The graduation present cost me $100. The graduation is for my boyfriend’s twin sisters. I went in with my boyfriend and got them gift certificates so they can get some work clothes to start their new life in the “real world.” My boyfriend’s parents rented a huge cabin so we are staying with them. I went in an extra $25 each for the gifts since their parents are paying for our accommodations. Good luck kiddos…the real world sucks.

Anyway, the wedding is on Sunday and I will be writing a check for that too. My boyfriend is attending with me so I need to decide on an appropriate amount. Proper etiquette dictates that I cover the cost of our plates and give a gift on top of that amount. They are having the wedding at a golf club but I don’t think the cost per plate it too high…something around $65/ person. I remember her saying something about the reception costing close to $4,000 and she is only inviting 62 people so that is about $65/person.

My net worth is going to take a hit this month, especially with the market down too. I haven’t had time to tally everything and I will know more once they call me with the cost of the car repair. Once the graduation, wedding and car situation is over…I will pretty much be done spending money for the month and my Emergency fund will hover around $1,200. I hope!

I swear, most days I just want to throw up the white flag and stop trying. I know I could be making smarter and better decisions but I feel like I am just going with the flow.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Chitown Down...Code 10...

I am home sick from work. Surprisingly, I am getting a lot of work done. Makes me want to shake my head but I tend to get a lot of work done when I'm at home. Go figure. I am also making a dent in my laundry. Yeah!!! This cold has me pretty down and out. I knew it was bad when I came into the office yesterday and my coworker asked if I got any sleep the night before. I ran to put on some eyeliner and mascara.

I will also be thrilled when this writing course is over next week. It was beautiful outside after work yesterday and here I was trudging to class. I gave up 4 years of my life in law school so I am done with class after work. Those days are over!!! Lake Michigan and the Beach were calling my name yesterday…Chitown, Chitown, Chitown. LOL

I am still on the fence about the help from my parents. I will probably give it all back to them by Sunday along with a long Thank You letter. I figure that if I need to replenish my $2,000 Efund then I can do it with the stock in my ShareBuilder and ESPP accounts. I am actually amazed that it remained intact through almost 6 months of 2010.

My blog is about getting this debt monkey off my back and part of that is learning to live within my means but still find a way to well…LIVE!!! It’s tough to say the least. It would be awesome to have someone to share expenses with but it would be even more awesome if it was someone I knew.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Car Update...

So the Nissan Dealership was going to charge me $90 for the inspection on my car. They would not waive the fee but the fee could be applied towards a recommended service. Since that was pretty much the $100 I was going to save by going to the Mom & Pop shop, I told them to go ahead and fix my brakes.

I didn't get the air conditioner fixed or the fog light. I am going to still take it to the Mom & Pop Shop and pay the $50 to have them take a second look at the A/C before I spend $700 to get it repaired. Hopefully, it won't need anything major afterall.

The major update that I have is that my parents decided to bail me out of this car situation. The total cost for the regular maintenance and the brakes came to $615 and my parents wrote me a check for $600. I am NOT okay with this even though I wish at this moment I didn't have a conscience. I told them I had the money in savings but my Dad insisted and said he didn’t want to hear another word about it.

My parents are not wealthy. My Dad went back to work just to pay for his health insurance after retirement. They will never pay off their home and they both have car notes, one of which will be paid off this year and I believe the other one within the next 2 years. They are good people, decent people and only wanted the best for their children. I feel like a disappointment and a failure. I should be helping them out and not the other way around. They need to paint the house and get a new fence badly and they also need to pay for their vacation. I get the fact that my Dad got his first social security check last month but that is extra money for THEM and not ME. It’s just not right. They need to save some money for the house repairs and to pay for their vacation.

Should I give it back?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

OMG...Car Update...

The guy at the Nissan Dealership just called about my car. I took it in this morning. The grand total for the repairs....$1,530!!! Oh Dear...I can't keep up for shit!!! I told the guy NOT to touch my car until I called him back. Oh my, Oh my, Oh my...I can't breathe.

Here is the breakdown:

Regular Maintenace and Inspection: $130
Repair Fog Light: $260
Repair Air Conditioner: $690
New Brakers and Roaders: $450

Total: $1,530

I can get away with not getting the fog light fixed for a while but NO A/C in Chicago during the Summer...Shoot me now!!! I have to be safe so there is no getting around the stupid brakes. Did I already say Oh My!?!? Damn Damn Damn!!! (Excuse my language...In my head, I am kicking and screaming like a spoiled 4 year old child).

*** I can use the EFund, liqudiate stock value at approximately $1,600 or charge the repairs. Ugh!!!

April 2010 Monthly Recap...

April was a decent month. My net worth improved for the 4th month in a row. That is a definite accomplishment.
My retirement account bounced back so that helped to improve my net worth considerably. I went over budget by $402. I used my Petty Cash Fund and the extra money I was holding in my Emergency Fund to cover the shortfall.

Beginning in June, you will no longer see the increase in my Federal Student Loans because all of my loans will be in repayment. While I am dreading the extra expense, I will be happy to see all of my liabilities decreasing on a monthly basis.

Below is my expense statement for April.
  • I decided that my goal is to keep both Food/Dining & Grocery under $300/month. In April I spent $496 and that is still way too high. My grocery expense was a little higher since I tried out some new recipes.
  • Transporation costs also hit me hard again in April. I decided to accrue $90/month towards my parking passes since I need them about every other month. This will reduce my expense from $450/month to $350/month.
  • I also need to find a way to accrue for my quarterly water bill. It's about $120/quarter or $40/month. The next bill is due in July.
  • I would really like to find a way to budget $100/month for both Personal Care and Entertainment - $200 total. When I look back at my expenses, this seems like a reasonable average amount that I tend to spend. I am going to cut back on the hair appointments even more from once a month and get just one pedicure each month and do one on my own.
  • Credit scores remain strong and my credit history remains clean.